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What is a wizard that makes them non-Muggle? Or, more directly, what ancestry does the witch/wizard gene follow? Is there a patriarchal wizard (or matriarchal witch) that Muggles have no part in? Elves perhaps?

Stop reading here.


Purpose of the Question/History/Don't Read

There seem to be solid consequences associated with being Muggle, or Muggle-related. A dominant theme in the novels is discrimination against the non-gifted race, but, when read into, the wizard bloodline doesn't appear all that well defined.

JKR indicates that wizard-ness is genetic, or inherited:

"Muggle-borns will have a witch or wizard somewhere on their family tree, in some cases many, many generations back. The gene resurfaces in some unexpected places."

By the above, it stands that a family that produces a squib (non-magical born of magical parents) must be a half-blooded family in some way, since half-blooded only requires one non-magical ancestor.

Of course, we are dealing in magic genetics. Any other form of genetics would make this inherited, seemingly recessive trait (or squibs couldn't exist), never appear at all. Unless they were XMen.

If it is so important, what does the wizard-bloodline follow?

Other Mythos

In other literature a wizard can be nearly anything, but magical powers are typically inherited as well as learned. Merlin of the Arthurian Legend (also mentioned in HP) is Cambian, meaning he is born of demonic intervention; this explains his source of enchantment.

Gandalf of Middle Earth is a Maiar, as are all Wizards of Middle Earth.

Wizards in Harry Potter seem to follow a bloodline, and it has been mentioned (in the question Gabe linked) that genetics have a heavy play in it, meaning that squibs and parents of Muggle-born wizards should have identical genetics. This bloodline must come from somewhere.

Magical Creatures

In Harry Potter it is common for magical creatures to "mingle" with humans, these beings are typically somewhat magical. Elves have been described to have very strong magic, but are for some unreasonable reason subservient to humans. I may be mistaken, but believe it was hinted that elves and the wizarding lineage had intersected at one time. Maybe I'm imagining this.

Genocidal Allusions

Voldemort hates muggles, and half-bloods, and whatever else is non-wizard.

The presence of this theme, suggests that this wizardly bloodline must be at least defined if the main antagonist is so obsessed with keeping that mysterious bloodline pure.

Since Slytherin himself was said to be a supremacist (circa a really long time ago) it suggests that this bloodline should have existed long before he was around, especially if he founded a school with people he was not related to, but were also magical.

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    in other words, was there a "Prime Wizard/Witch"? Ie - an initial "Adam/Eve"-esque progenitor of the wizarding gene? – NKCampbell Oct 31 '18 at 21:12
  • @NKCampbell Not specifically. Any bloodline will do. – Gorchestopher H Oct 31 '18 at 23:08
24

I don't have a full answer, but can address the question about Salazar Slytherin and the (alleged) shared wizarding ancestor being long before him.

It's alluded to in the games canon (via Chocolate Frog cards in games) more than in the books, but there were clearly wizards all over the Ancient world:

  • there are several Ancient Greek ones mentioned;

  • it's noted that Goliath was a Giant mercenary though whether David was supposed to have been a wand bearer is not clear.

Given that wide ancient distribution, the magic lineage clearly must converge (if it converges at all) back to the original Cromagnon dispersal, to have been propagated to Proto-Indians as well as ancient semitic tribes.

Having said that, if magic has (as I think we established in the linked question) genetic basis, it's plausible that:

  1. the relevant mutation(s) arose independently in a # of individuals

  2. and/or the relevant mutation(s) may have predated modern hominids, as they are shared by other "magical" hominid - or may be even non-hominid - species (giants, elves, goblins, trolls) as well as non-ape magical creatures (kneazles, owls, Basilisks, spiders).

There is no clear canon support for this but it makes the most scientific sense.

  • My problem with the mutation theory is that given JRK's "genetic" explanation of muggle-born wizards, it would seem that a random mutation simply doesn't happen, and therefore did not happen. I have no problem assuming that magical creatures just happened as magical creatures, but for example, there doesn't seem to be any question of an elf having magical ability. Humans on the other hand, may or may not be, this is hereditary. One interesting item I have found is that "elves" are not classified as "beings", "spirits" or "beasts" by JKR (similar to Veela and Giants, which can mate with humans) – Gorchestopher H Jun 21 '12 at 16:11
  • Well, of the answers given, this is the most correct. – Gorchestopher H Jun 25 '12 at 2:09
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    The bloodline comes from immortal gods marrying humans or elves. The most famous and historically first instance was the marriage of Thingol with Melian, leaving their daughter Lúthien with wizarding abilities. This bloodline was then preserved by numerous descendants, even after the fall of Númenor. The blood was later refreshed by eg. the goddess Ninsun birthing Gilgamesh, or goddess Venus birthing Aeneas, though we know of no similar marriages in the time of the Harry Potter novels. – b_jonas Aug 24 '12 at 7:31
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    Haha, 'scientific sense'. Good answer, though. – evilsoup Apr 10 '14 at 19:35
  • @Richard - you misread my answer. Cromangon was used in a context of proto-human geographic dispersal, not having anything to do with Goliath other than "must have been some ancestor that predated humans appearing in ancient Levant" – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 14 '14 at 14:31
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I don't know if this will interest you, but here is a link to a great fan-written paper on wizarding genetics that just made the rounds a few weeks ago. From the author:

I read [J.K. Rowling's] statement that the wizarding gene is dominant. I have heard criticism that this does not explain muggle-borns, squibs, or the steady inheritance pattern of magical abilities; but I got your back. Magical ability could be explained by a single autosomal dominant gene if it is caused by an expansion of trinucleotide repeats with non-Mendelian ratios of inheritance.
(...)
[W]ithin a range, most muggles have about 50 trinucleotide repeats, but like any other trait there will be variation and some muggles might have 90 repeats and still be phenotypically non-magical. Muggle-borns are caused by spontaneous mutations.
(...)
There would be two genetic explanations for squibs. Either the individual did not inherit the wizarding gene despite TRD (explained in the next paragraph) or the individual has a rare deletion mutation removing a series of trinucleotide repeats.
(...)
[I]f my previous speculation about excessive trinucleotide expansions causing greater magical ability is correct, then these old wizarding families can accurately pride themselves in their unique genetics, since further trinucleotide expansions have likely occurred over many generations.
Kleonitz, Andrea - Wizarding Genetics - August 2012

Included is discussion on the mutation factor of genetics, nature versus nurture, genetic anticipation, purebloods, half-bloods, Muggleborns, and Squibs. Note: this paper is a working hypothesis by a biology student. I wasn't sure what the protocol was for copying and pasting huge amounts of text from a research paper, so I erred against it and provided just a few short paragraphs. It's a really interesting read. I claim no responsibility for Tumblr :P

Wizarding Genetics by Andrea Kleonitz -- WARNING: Here be science ...

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    Thanks for the share. There's a response to this somewhere to the effect that the most common way trinucleotide repeats work is for them to disappear over time, not appear. This somewhat complicates matters as it seems, at least seems that squibs are less common than muggle-born magicals. Regardless of the genetic workings of this (I'm satisfied with magic genes operating on magic), I'm mostly interested in knowing what lineage is being preserved by the magical-supremacists. It's still fun to see some theories. – Gorchestopher H Aug 24 '12 at 1:50
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    Squibs aren't really rare, you just rarely find out about them. – b_jonas Aug 24 '12 at 7:33
  • @GorchestopherH - You're very welcome -- I thought it was an interesting premise. :) – Slytherincess Aug 24 '12 at 15:52
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    @b_jonas -- All I can find in canon regarding the frequency of Squibs is Ron saying to Harry in CoS, ‘Well – it’s not funny really – but as it’s Filch ...’ he said. ‘A Squib is someone who was born into a wizarding family but hasn’t got any magic powers. Kind of the opposite of Muggle-born wizards, but Squibs are quite unusual.' Do you have a reliable source that says they aren't rare, but are just hidden away (or whatever), aside from what Auntie Murial says about Squibs at the wedding in DH? :) – Slytherincess Aug 24 '12 at 15:56
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    Slytherincess: I don't have a reliable source that they're not rare, but we do know they're hidden away, usually working among Muggles, and I expect Ron doesn't meet Muggles much, which is why I conjecture they're not so rare. – b_jonas Aug 24 '12 at 20:24
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Wizards originate from Mars, Muggles from mushrooms.

From the Wizards of the Month section of J.K. Rowling's old website:

Hambledon Quince
1936 - present
Author of controversial theory that wizards originate from Mars, Muggles from mushrooms.

Of course, bear in mind that this is a controversial theory which likely hasn't been actually proven.

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    I like that this answer is an authoritative source of a dubious source for answering the question. – Ellesedil Mar 23 '18 at 15:21
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What if magick is needed to fuel the 'gene'? It would explain both the muggle borns and the squibs to a degree. Muggle borns come from not only a build up of magick but also the stronger wizard 'gene' which added together 'activates'. With a squib, one or both are missing....or it could be too much inbreeding between the 'pure bloods' causing one or both to not be there. I'm totally just musing on this end.

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